I don’t like Def Leppard. I mean some of their music is OK, but I don’t like their attitude. Let me explain.
First, let’s agree on the facts. They released two pseudo-metal albums during the heyday of the NWOBHM (which they completely scorn – more on that later). Next, was a half metal/half glam effort in 1983, which was very well received from a commercial view. Their mega-blockbuster in 1987 was pure glam/hair metal. They had another album in 1990 that did OK, but after that they released one commercial dud after another (I think there were six, but I could have missed one).
So here is a band that shuns their metal roots because they want to be more mainstream than a metal band. For a few years they certainly accomplished this, but those days are long gone. Joe Elliott always considered his band more like a Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones, but history will remember Leppard more with Whitesnake and Poison. So is being a has-been hair metal band better that being considered part of the NWOBHM?
Let’s dismiss Elliott’s premise that Leppard is comparable to Zeppelin, The Who, the Stones, etc. I’ll easily dismiss this with the fact that Def Leppard can’t sell out a shoebox anymore. If any of those other bands toured, it would be 50,000+ seat stadiums. Also, none of those bands have ever released commercial duds like Slang or Songs from the Sparkle Lounge. Even Led Zeppelin’s Presence was a far more successful and lasting effort.
Yet despite this failure to capture the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of American music consumers for the last quarter century, Leppard still thinks they are too good for the NWOBHM. Now like any music movement, the NWOBHM had their share of garbage, but there were a lot of good bands and a couple of legendary bands to rise out of that movement; and, considering Def Leppard’s inability to record anything anyone wants to listen to, I would think they would want to associate themselves with anyone that would have them, including the likes of Saxon and the Tygers of Pan Tang.